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Who were the Aesirs?
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W ho were the Aesirs?
In Old Norse, the Aesir are the principal gods of the pantheon of Norse mythology. The Aesir stayed forever young by eating the apples of Iðunn, although they could be slain, as it was predicted that nearly all will die at Ragnarok (fate of the gods); this battle at the end of the world is waged between the Aesir, led by Odin and their evil aggressors of fire giants, man eaters and various monsters, led by Loki). Not only will many perish in this apocalyptic conflagration, but almost everything in the universe will be torn asunder.
Asgard, a far-northern mountainous nation which is permanently glaciated, is home to the blond-haired, blue-eyed Aesir, a virile and rough hewn race of hunters and axe-wielding warriors. Asgard was one of the few nations never subdued during the wars of the latter Hyborian Age.
In battle, Aesir prefer the broadsword or battleaxe. Additionally, they rely upon their chain-mailed shirts, horned helmets, and wooden shields to protect them from the weapons of their enemies. Many Aesir learn to use the throwing axe, but most will refuse to learn the spear or bow, weapons they think are cowardly. Only by dying in battle, with sword or axe in hand and courage in the heart, can an Aesir find his way to Valhalla, the after-life paradise sought by all Norsemen.
The Aesirs include many of the major Norse figures, such as Odin, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. Although only Odin and Thor are famously noted in both myth and cult; an Aesir like Ullr is almost unknown in the myths, but his name is seen in a lot of geographical names, especially in Sweden, so his cult was probably quite wide-spread.
The interaction between the Aesir and the Vanir is an interesting aspect of Norse mythology. While other cultures have had "elder" and "younger" families of gods, as with the Titans versus the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Aesir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporary. The two clans of gods fought battles, concluded treaties, and exchanged hostages.
It is tempting to speculate that the interactions described as occurring between Aesir and Vanir reflect the types of interaction common to various Norse clans at the time. According to another theory, the cult of the Vanir (who are mainly connected with fertility and relatively peaceful) may be of an older date, and that of the more warlike Aesir of later origin, so the mythical war may perhaps mirror a religious conflict. On the other hand this may be a parallel to the historicized conflict between the Romans and the Sabines. The noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that both conflicts are actually different versions of an older Indo-European myth of conflict and integration between deities of sky and rulership vs. deities of earth and fertility, with no strict historical antecedents.
Odin is considered the chief god in Norse mythology. His name is related to óðr, meaning "excitation," "fury" or "poetry," and his role, like many of the Norse pantheon, is complex: he is god of wisdom, war, battle and death. He is also attested as being a god of magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.
Iðunn was, in Norse mythology, one of the goddesses. She was the custodian of apples which allowed the Aesir to maintain their eternal youthfulness. She was the wife of Bragi, god of poetry. Iðunn was at one time abducted with her apples by the giant Þjazi, who used Loki as a stooge to lure Iðunn out of Asgard. During her absence, the Aesir began to age without the rejuvenating qualities of her apples, prompting them to press Loki into the task of rescuing her. Borrowing Freyja's falcon skin, he retrieved Iðunn from Þrymheimr, transforming her into the form of a nut for the flight back. Þjazi, displeased, pursued them in the form of an eagle, but was defeated by having his wings set alight by a bonfire created by the Aesir.
What is unique about Ragnarök as an eschatological myth is its emphasis on the idea that the gods already know through prophecy what is going to happen: when the event will occur, who will be slain by whom, and so forth. They even realize that they are powerless to prevent Ragnarök. But they will still bravely and defiantly face their bleak destiny. This is thought by many scholars to represent the ordered world (the Aesir) eventually succumbing the unavoidable forces of chaos and entropy (the Giants). This is similar to the representation of the monstrous children of Uranus in Greek mythology as the primordial forces of chaos. Old Norse Ragnarök is a compound of ragna, the genitive plural of regin ("gods" or "ruling powers"), and rök "fate" (etymologically related to English "reach").
Eschatology (from the Greek ?s?at?? meaning "last" + -logy) is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world or the ultimate destiny of human kind, commonly phrased as the end of the world. In many religions, the end of the world is a future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as the Messiah or Messianic Age, the afterlife, and the soul. The Greek word a??? means "age"; some translations may read "end of the age" instead of "end of the world". The distinction also has theological significance, for the "end times" in many religions may involve the destruction of the planet (or of all living things), but with the human race surviving in some new form, ending the current "age" of existence and beginning a new one.
Most Western monotheistic religions have doctrines claiming that 'chosen' or 'worthy' members of the one true faith will be "spared" or "delivered" from the coming judgment and wrath of God. They will be ushered into paradise either before, during, or after it depending upon the end-time scenario to which they hold. As well as the wrath of God at the end of the age there is the wrath of man.
god of innocence and beauty
the bard (skald)
god of justice
Freyja (a Vanir hostage)
goddess of love and mating
Freyr (a Vanir hostage)
god of fertility and love
chief goddess
the watchman and guardian
blind god of darkness and winter
the indecisive god
goddess of youth, fertility and death
the trickster
the mile-stepper
wife of Baldr
Njörðr (a Vanir hostage)
god of seamanship and sailing
chief god, of wisdom and war
golden-haired wife of Thor
god of thunder and battle
one-handed god of battles and bravery
the hunter, tracker and archer
the avenger

brother of Odin, who gave men speech
god of silence, stealth, and revenge
brother of Odin, who gave men feeling and thought